WUFAW’s Youth Activism Program (YAP) recognizes our exceptional Youth who are actively making a difference in their community by volunteering for an animal organization, personally rescuing animals, or being a passionate advocate for animal rights and welfare.

“Kids who volunteer are more successful in school and more likely to graduate from high school and college,” according to Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information at Tufts University.

Studies also find that the earlier a child can begin volunteering, the better. And volunteering with animals can make the impact even more substantial. Being around animals regularly can teach responsibility and compassion. It can provide many other qualities that will help kids become amazing adults. 

WUFAW encourages our young heroes’ continual compassion and dedication by awarding a $500 grant to one individual every year to further their mission. 

To apply, you must submit a 1-2 minute video describing your actions to help animals. The video should also include your motivations and goals for the future.

Guidelines for the YAP award are as follows:

  • Open to individuals who are between the ages of 8 to 18.
  • Applications are submitted through the application form.
  • Submissions must be from an individual, not a group or organization.
  • There is no fee for applying.
  • Activities should be ongoing, not single events or arranged for this award.
  • Applicants must be residents of the United States.

For any questions or comments, please contact: [email protected] 

YAP Award Winners

11-year-old Naomi Kwast of California exemplifies everything we hope to see in young people’s compassion toward animals.

During the Pandemic, local shelters were closed to the public, and they advised the community to leave stray cats and dogs on the streets. Naomi attended a city council meeting where she pleaded with the council members to improve things for the animals. But unfortunately, the shelter remained closed.

Naomi decided to volunteer with Long Beach Spay and Neuter foundation to rescue homeless, sick, and injured cats. She assisted with their Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) efforts. Spending many weekends working at their mobile vet clinics, learning how to prep animals for surgery, gluing surgical incisions closed, and even giving vaccines. Naomi fostered several cats and their litters, becoming proficient in bottle feeding, syringe feeding, nail trimming, deworming, and so much more. She was hands-on with bathing, medicating, rehabilitating, and socializing the more feral ones. When an animal found a home, Naomi would put a care package together with toys and treats and a letter to the adopter explaining what the cat/kitten liked. And to top it off, she would sew them a blanket to enjoy the familiar smells they were used to.

Naomi aspires to pass legislation to protect animals, primarily those backyard breeders sell on social media. She dreams of becoming a veterinarian and someday opening a no-kill facility with a low-cost vet clinic that focuses on mass sterilizations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Naomi helped over 1200 animals and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Since our first-ever recipient lived locally, our WUFAW team decided to surprise her while she was volunteering at a Cat Adoption Event. We presented her with a gift basket of cat goodies and a dog-themed clutch for herself. When she opened it and found the check for $500, the look on her face was priceless. She was in shock and hugged her mom with excitement. 

Naomi told us she would use the money to help the cats in Eagle Pass, TX, where the shelters don’t have cages to house the strays, so gas chambers kill the cats. 

Keep up the excellent work, Naomi. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.